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    Responding to a request for PD measurements

    How to keep patients in-house, not online

    Most dispensing optometric practices are fielding frequent requests from their patient base to provide pupillary distance (PD) measurements along with a copy of a prescription for eyeglasses. There are varied responses among doctors, the eyecare professionals (ECPs), and other staff members as to how to handle this request. While there is no definitive right and wrong approach or response, it can be helpful to study various options and responses before establishing one that best defines your practice. 

    This topic has been discussed heavily among ECPs, and I have listened and taken notes along the way to study options. I have also taken a survey from our patient base about why patients are asking for the information. The more informed we are, the better we can be prepared to respond when a need arises.

    I have heard ECPs state that they will never provide a PD measurement. Some argue that if they do provide a PD, and a patient purchases eyewear online, they have now become part of the manufacturing process and have some liability. Others charge a fee to provide a PD and go as far to also charge for adjustments to eyewear purchased some place other than their offices. I have read about doctors having concerns that a PD is actually required by interpretation of law in various states, along with the written copy of the eyeglass prescription.

    If you can’t beat them

    If you research various websites, you can read many suggestions and trends. One common theme is that although there is no consensus, we do have to decide how our practices, and our professions, are going to respond to the growing number of requests from patients to be provided a PD measurement. Many practitioners offer online shopping options to their patients in addition to being able to shop in a brick-and-mortar setting that employs professionals. This is progressive thinking and offers the patient choices. Often patients will buy from both. In some cases, the online purchase may be an inexpensive spare pair of glasses.

    If we are going to continue to be proactive, then we must provide in-house offers for basic purchases as a low-cost option from our offices. We should something in place to offer that may not compete with the lowest prices offered online—but can be backed up with a warranty and an expert. The way we respond to a patient makes an impact. Keep a positive, friendly, helpful attitude, and never respond in a confrontational manner.

    Some ECPs argue that in providing the pupillary measurement, we are actually going to put ourselves out of business. Opticians wonder if their profession is becoming obsolete. Because online shopping seems to be a growing trend, and we are more frequently asked to provide this measurement, it does stand to reason that more and more sales are going in that direction. We must stop and ask ourselves these questions:

    • “If I do not provide patients their PD measurement as requested, will I hurt our practice or help our practice in the long run?”

    • “What am I doing to maintain a great relationship with our patients?”

    • “How can I continue to give great customer service, maintain growth in optical dispensing sales, and compete with the online markets?”

    Next: Differentiate your practice

    Lisa Frye, ABOC, FNAO
    Lisa Frye is a longstanding Fellow of the National Academy of Opticians. She has more than 30 years of experience in optometric ...


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